Lawyers trying a Mecklenburg County Superior Court trial allowed one of their jurors to leave the case mid-deliberations — after they learned "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino had a benefit concert to attend in New York on Thursday.

Barrino, a High Point native who now owns a home in southeast Charlotte, was chosen to serve on a jury hearing a motor vehicle negligence case Wednesday.

"People recognized her right away," said Charles Keller, a court system administrator. "Jurors started coming up to her taking pictures with their camera phones and getting autographs."

Testimony took less than a day and Judge W. David Lee sent jurors out to deliberate late Wednesday, Keller said. But when it became apparent deliberations would continue into Thursday, lawyers agreed Barrino, who won the 2004 edition of "Idol" was free to go.

Keller said he was among the court employees who got their picture snapped with the celebrity juror.

"She's just really nice, down to earth," he said. "Not at all what you'd expect."